Terrance “Soultru” Banks has been blending pop, R&B and hip-hop for years. For The Truth, the Davenport singer’s latest EP, he’s taken an unexpected step back: peeling back the production and sitting down for a set of stripped-down, unguarded acoustic songs. It’s a bold move for any singer to branch out past the voice and pick up an instrument, especially one not found in one’s past material. Banks, inspired by his own listening habits, decided to grab a guitar and work out everything himself.
“I love acoustic guitar, so it made sense to do [an unplugged release] … Bands haven’t stuck, so it was easier to put out this style of music instead of the long process of working with a band,” Banks said. “Because I just really didn’t want to have to make Cadence keep playing everything. Even though she can.”
He’s referring to Cadence Graham, his longtime collaborator in Soultru (which serves as the name for the project itself as well as his personal stage name). Graham also makes music under the name Crystal Palace. While four of the five tracks are bare-bones acoustic ballads, “Must Be,” the glorious exception, is fully fleshed-out by Cadence on bass, drums and keyboards, confirming Banks’ statement of her abilities and ending the EP on an upbeat note.
Soultru’s music has always been deeply personal, and the vulnerability is even stronger here. “Black Eyed Peas” starts with a near-death experience and moves from a musing on mortality to an affirmation of faith and being watched over by departed family. “Come and Gone” is a kiss-off to bad love with just enough hip-hop inflection on the verses to remind you where he’s coming from. “We” is the flipside, an achingly tender song of devotion and love, and “Me and Mine” is another song of family, struggle and perseverance.
“Must Be,” the aforementioned closer, is the outlier, combining classic soul with a Beatley, McCartneyesque bounce, courtesy of Cadence Graham’s jaunty piano. It’s a great taste of what first-time listeners can expect from Soultru-the-band when they bring the fusion pot to a boil — and a possible hint as to what may be coming.
Soultru’s next project is a full-band full-length, with some of the songs from The Truth getting the expanded treatment. He is also engaged in uploading a docuseries on his art and life to his YouTube channel one episode at at time.